DAVE & DUJANOVIC

How safe is your son or daughter’s university?

Apr 30, 2019, 4:43 PM | Updated: May 6, 2019, 1:40 pm
university of utah lauren mccluskey campus safety...
In the Nov. 19, 2014 photo, Pullman High School senior Lauren McCluskey is surrounded by her family before signing a letter of intent in Pullman, Wash., to compete in track for the University of Utah. McCluskey was shot and killed outside of a University of Utah dormitory on campus in Salt Lake City in 2018. (The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)
(The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lauren McCluskey, a track star at the University of Utah, would have graduated this week. Thursday night at 6 p.m., she would have been wearing a cap and gown in the Jon M. Huntsman Center as Rev. France Davis addressed all her fellow graduates. Friday at 2 p.m., she would have attended a second ceremony for her fellow Communications grads.

She won’t be at either event, of course. McCluskey was shot and killed in October — murdered by the ex-boyfriend she tried to get help escaping.

In a statement issued the morning after McCluskey died, her mother described the young woman as an “outstanding student with a 3.75 GPA majoring in Communication,” who was “excited to graduate in May 2019.”

Since McCluskey’s death, campuses all over Utah have been scrutinized for their safety records as parents and students asked whether each school was doing everything it could to make sure no one else would leave college in a coffin.

At the University of Utah, more students are taking advantage of services to provide safety escorts — but we also saw plenty of room for improvement at all the schools on the list — even those touted as safe.

Utah’s safest universities

A new report from Your Local Security found Utah State University in Logan is the safest college campus in the state. But Dave & Dujanovic wanted to know if the data bears that out. We’re breaking it down for you here so you can decide for yourself which university really is Utah’s safest.

Your Local Security took their data from the U.S. Department’s Campus Safety and Security analysis 2017 report and from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, both of which you can view for yourself by clicking the links in blue.

When it comes to sexual assault, the results certainly don’t suggest that Utah State University is any safer than any of the other universities in Utah. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s data, sexual assaults are more common at USU than of Utah’s largest eight universities except for the University of Utah.

Sexual Assaults

(Source: US Department of Education)

USU, according to the data, saw nine reported rapes and twelve reported cases of what it labels as “fondling” in the year 2017 alone. The real risk, as well, is likely far worse. According to RAINN, only 23 percent of sexual assaults in the United States are ever reported.

Domestic and dating violence

(Source: US Department of Education)

Violence in relationships, likewise, is unusually high at USU, although they’re far from the worst. Adjusted for the number of students, violence in relationships is at its highest at Weber State University, while domestic violence rates at the University of Utah drastically outweigh every single other school.

The University of Utah, the data says, saw 25 cases of domestic violence – meaning of people physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing their partners – reported in 2017.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

(Source: US Department of Education)

A cursory glance at the data for alcohol and drug abuse might make the University of Utah look particularly bad, but it’s worth noting that they have 32,800 students on their campus. Dixie State University, on the other hand, has just 9,673 students, meaning that those small spikes in drug and alcohol arrests actually represent a relatively high percentage of their student body.

Interestingly, although the data seems to suggest that Dixie is Utah’s hardest-drinking school, the Board of Education’s data doesn’t show that a single student saw disciplinary actions for drugs or alcohol the entire year.

Murders and Assaults

(Source: US Department of Education)

Most parents would say the only acceptable number of murders on a university campus is zero — and, fortunately, that’s the number at almost every school except in the state except for the University of Utah: Chen Wei Guo was murdered in October 2017, and Lauren McCluskey was murdered in October 2018.

Burglaries and thefts

(Source: US Department of Education)

You can park your car safely at USU and not worry about whether it’ll be there when you come back. In 2017, the school didn’t see a single reported motor vehicle theft – although it did see more burglaries than any school other than the University of Utah.

Changes at the University of Utah

Since the death of Lauren McCluskey last fall, campus officials at the U. say they’ve provided nearly double the number of courtesy escorts on campus from police or security from the same time last year.

university of utah courtesy escort

The University of Utah Department of Public Safety offers courtesy escorts to anyone who needs one on campus.

From January to the end of April 2018, U. Communications Director Chris Nelson told Dave & Dujanovic police and security provided 392 escorts. This year, there have already been 671.

Nelson also said there was a notable increase in requests for courtesy escorts after major crimes on campus. Escorts nearly doubled after McCluskey’s murder, and in the time since a sexual assault was reported at the U. on April 13 of this year, Nelson said police and security provided 20 escorts — again, about double from the same time frame a year ago.

A review of what happened leading up to McCluskey’s death resulted in a number of recommended changes at the U. Another set of recommendations is expected from the Presidential Task Force on Campus Safety in the coming weeks.

Listen to what happened when Debbie Dujanovic tried to find a police officer on campus in the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

affordable care act

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Resources are also available online: udvc.org.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

Dave & Dujanovic

emergency kits are a vital part of preparedness for families...
Curt Gresseth

How families should prepare for an emergency at home or away

Do you have an emergency reunification plan ready for your loved ones? Two experts share tips on what to do when disaster strikes while at home or away.
2 months ago
Cherie Wood...
Curt Gresseth

South Salt Lake mayor defends new $130,000 salary

The mayor of South Salt Lake defended her latest salary of $130,000 by saying she hasn't received a pay raise in 11 years in office.
2 months ago
South Salt Lake at Southern X-posure, the site of a deadly shooting....
Curt Gresseth

South Salt Lake resident wants to stop mayor and City Council from awarding themselves raises

A South Salt Lake resident has taken his ballot initiative on pay raises for city leaders to the Utah Supreme Court after being rebuffed by the city attorney on what he said was a technicality.
2 months ago
Connerjack Oswalt was found in Park City, Utah after being missing from California years ago. (CNN)...
Curt Gresseth

Missing three years, autistic teen found in Park City

An autistic teen missing from northern California since 2019 was found by sheriff's deputies in Summit County, Utah. He has since been reunited with his stepfather.
2 months ago
Debbie busts inflation by buying consigned clothes....
Debbie Dujanovic

Dujanovic: Battling inflation like it’s 1981

Inflation has Debbie Dujanovic budgeting like it's 1981. She has tips on how to battle inflation and save your wallet some tears.
2 months ago
design...
Devin Oldroyd

Utah wants your help redesigning the state flag by April 30

MILLCREEK, Utah — Utah residents have until April 30 to submit their ideas for a redesign of the Utah state flag.  According to a press release from the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement, Gov. Spencer J. Cox launched the “More than a Flag” effort in January. The effort is part of a statewide […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
How safe is your son or daughter’s university?